NEW YORK (AP): Touted prospect Francisco Álvarez was recalled by the New York Mets from Triple-A Syracuse before their home opener Friday against the Miami Marlins.
Álvarez was brought up to replace fellow catcher Omar Narváez, who was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 6, with a strained left calf.
“We had a player hurt and he was on the roster, and next guy up,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “Next guy in line.”
The 31-year-old Narváez was injured during Wednesday’s loss in Milwaukee, and the team announced Thursday that an MRI revealed a medium- to high-grade strain. He is expected to miss about eight to nine weeks.
Rated one of baseball’s top prospects, the 21-year-old Álvarez was not in the starting lineup Friday. Tomás Nido caught Tylor Megill in a game that was postponed a day because of a bad weather forecast.
Showalter said Álvarez will get some playing time, but he wouldn’t commit to how much.
”We’ll see how that evolves. Obviously we’re lucky to have a guy like Tomás who we’re very comfortable with, obviously,” Showalter said. “Day-to-day thing, what the needs of the club are and what Tomás is — but certainly Francisco will get some playing time.”
Showalter said he will consider using Álvarez at designated hitter, too.
Narváez was hitting .286 with two RBIs in five games for New York after signing a $15 million, two-year contract as a free agent in December. The deal includes a player option for 2024.
His injury leaves the Mets without a left-handed-hitting catcher on the active roster to pair with Nido, a right-handed batter who is a much stronger defender than hitter.
Nido, who turns 29 next week, began the day with a .217 career batting average and .573 OPS in 256 major league games. He hit .239 with three homers, 28 RBIs and a .600 OPS in 98 games last season.
“I know Tomás was hoping nothing would happen to Omar, but he wants to take this opportunity and run with it,” Showalter said. “He’s probably looking at it as an opportunity to establish himself as an everyday catcher, which he’s capable of doing.”
Álvarez hit two home runs in four games for Triple-A Syracuse early this season. He made his big league debut late last September and went 2 for 12 with a homer, a double and two walks in five regular-season games. He was included on New York’s playoff roster and struck out in his only postseason appearance in the NL wild-card round against San Diego.